cover image Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s 
The Hobbit

Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit

Corey Olsen. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-547-73946-5

Since 2009, Washington College English professor Olsen’s Web site, The Tolkien Professor, has provided accessible insight into the works of famed academic and fantasist J.R.R. Tolkien. Fans of that site will be pleased to discover Olsen narrowing his focus here to The Hobbit, the children’s book in which the first tentative steps that would eventually lead to Mount Doom itself were taken. Olsen studies Tolkien’s work chapter by chapter, illuminating details of character and plot that might otherwise escape the reader; the various versions of the work in question and the reasons why Tolkien altered his work are likewise examined. A work of love backed up by professional experience, this book is packed with information; the author’s infectious enthusiasm pervades his words, ensuring that what could have been a dry work in other hands will retain even a casual reader’s interest. The result is a text suitable for fans and scholars alike. Agent: Joe Monti, Barry Goldberg Literary. (Sept.)